HAPPY 2016 DAMN YOUR EYES!

31/12/2015

disconekt2015 has been a wonderful/horrific/insane/peaceful/war-ridden year.  In other words, just another average year in the wondrous 21st century.  Many thousands of people have been murdered by armies, national and terrorist.  Most of the victims have been black and brown.  But some were white, which has, as usual, caused the most outrage in the “developed” world.

2016 is probably going to be the first year of a protracted war in Syria and Iraq, ISIL vs “The Good Guys” (or ISIL vs “The Bad Guys”, depending on where you shit).  Kick-started to a large degree by the murder of hundreds of white people in France, not so much by the murder of thousands of brown people elsewhere.  Not surprising, of course.  It’s just how war works nowadays.

Anyway, screw negativity.  For some people, 2016 will be a good year.  In that spirit, please raise a glass of champagne or toxic sludge and make a toast:

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  WHOOOOH!!!

 

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Foreign Policy doesn’t fuel domestic terrorism? Get real!

09/12/2015

A lot of “centre-ground” (and right-from centre)  commentators and “moderate” Labour MPs are pissed off that Stop The War Coalition think that French foreign policy regarding Syria might have provoked the shootings and bombings in Paris in November – and that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has not distanced himself from the anti-war group.

It was blogged in the Spectator site:

Labour MPs appear to be just as annoyed by Jeremy Corbyn’s links to the Stop The War coalition as they are about his comments on shoot to kill. In the questions following David Cameron’s Commons statement on the Paris attacks, several MPs used the opportunity to make coded attacks on Stop The War for a blog it published, titled ‘Paris reaps whirlwind of western support for extremist violence in Middle East’. It has been since been removed (cached version here) and Corbyn said he was glad it was deleted — but he has yet to condemn the fact it was published in the first place.

And the Daily Mail reported that

One Labour MP said the suggestion that the French people were to blame for the attack was ‘akin at the time of the Second World War to blaming the Jews for their deaths under the Nazis’.

Frontbencher Hilary Benn refused to rule out resigning if Mr Corbyn attended the event [a Stop The War Coalition Christmas fundraiser] as Labour MPs lined up to condemn their leader’s opposition to armed police shooting to kill terrorists.

This is so disingenuous, and not the first time politicians and political commentators have come out with this nonsense that somehow Western military action abroad doesn’t provoke terror acts at home.  Tony Blair, UK prime minister in 2005, denied at the time that the 7/7 bombings were in any way provoked by British military action in Iraq – and he’s still denying it.  But, after the bombings, a video was acquired by an Arab TV station in which Mohammad Sidique Khan, one of the suicide bombers, said the attack was in response to British military foreign policy in the region.

At the time the BBC reported:

On the tape the bomber said: “Our words are dead until we give them life with our blood.

“I and thousands like me have forsaken everything for what we believe.”

He said the public was responsible for the atrocities perpetuated against his “people” across the world because it supported democratically elected governments who carried them out.

“Until we feel security, you will be our targets,” he said.

“Until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people we will not stop this fight.

“We are at war and I am a soldier. Now you too will taste the reality of this situation.”

Muslim Council of Britain spokesman Inayat Bunglawala told BBC News:

“Mr Khan has allowed his hatred to distort his moral compass.

“However, this tape does serve to confirm that the war in Iraq and our policies in the Middle East have indeed led to a radicalisation amongst a section of Muslim youth.”

The same is happening now.  While it would be ridiculous to claim that the people slain in Paris somehow “deserved it”, it must be acknowledged that the terrorists – all French or Belgian citizens who had connections with ISIL – did see the French military action in Iraq and Syria as a provocation.

Corbyn can see the connection, and now his political rivals – in Labour and in other parties – want to use his honesty as another lever to undermine him.

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Tracking jihadis on Twitter

19/01/2015

Interesting article in the Guardian, on how social media experts are tracking and identifying foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq. These analysts work for the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), at King’s College London. The ICSR is “the first global initiative of its type” and is frequently contacted by counter-terrorism officers “hungry for information on the continuing flow of Britons to the ranks of Isis.”

The ICSR claims to have greater success in tracking fighters than any government-run organisation, even though its resources and its access to information is much more limited than those available to the likes of MI6 and the CIA. According to the article, Professor Peter Neumann, the leader of the team, says hat blanket surveillance is not effective unless you have the skills to decode the information acquired.

Neumann said that the centre had built an enviable repository of online data from open sources – tricks that the security services are keen to learn and replicate, although the ICSR refuses to hand over data to the intelligence agencies. He added that the databases were compiled using legal means, with no hacking of accounts or even the use of fake online profiles.

“We are using information that is openly accessible to anyone who wants to look. Over the years we’ve become quite clever, but none of what we’re doing involves hacking and obviously we do not have special powers granted to us by the authorities,” said Neumann, who advocates a more targeted approach to intelligence-gathering rather than reliance on mass surveillance techniques.

So the strategy employed by the NSA and GCHQ is less effective. They collect huge amounts of information but do’t know what to do with it. Whereas the ICSR’s more targeted approach yields much better quality intelligence. For example, Shiraz Maher, senior fellow at the centre, has a good grasp on what jihadis are like because he actually orchestrates conversations with fighters over Facebook and Twitter. He says “From an intelligence perspective, social media allows us to gauge their mood and gives opportunities to perhaps create or exploit dissent. Before social media you would have needed to have recruited spies.”

An example of this ability to gauge the mood of ISIS fighters and their supporters is provided by Melanie Smith, another ICSR research fellow. She told the Guardian There’s been some grumblings recently. Some of the British women have been complaining because it’s the depths of winter and there’s no electricity. The water’s been so cold they can’t do their washing and their kids are getting sick.” Obviously, knowledge of the enemy’s state of morale can be extremely useful when planning operations.

"Jihadi John", British ISIS fighter involved in the killings of Western hostages.  Photo from Wikipedia

“Jihadi John”, British ISIS fighter involved in the killings of Western hostages. Photo from Wikipedia

Professor Neumann says that if he had had a larger team 2 years ago, the ICSR would have been able to identify “Jihadi John”, the British ISIS fighter involved in the killings of several US and British hostages. As it is, the ICSR can only assert that the extremist is not Londoner Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, as claimed by the media.

So the experts believe that the approach espoused by Western leaders such as David Cameron and his beloved snooper’s charter is wrong. What is needed is targeted intelligence gathering and surveillance of named individuals. And where will these names come from? Well, if the ICSR has been able to identify fighters using only information that is already in the public domain, imagine how much more they could do with warrants and access to restricted files. This could all be done within the current legal framework, with no need for snoopers’ charters and large-scale trawling of everyone’s communications.

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What ya gonna do about Syria then, NATO?

25/06/2011

Western powers, operating under the NATO flag, have involved themselves in the Lybian civil /war, on the grounds that Gadaffi is using his armed forces to terrorise and kill civilians in his own country. This is very laudable and all that; but governments frequently use terror to silence their people.

I could break open the history books to demonstrate how often this has happened without any outside interference. But I don’t need history to show I’m right – cos it’s happening right now. Look, for instance, at Syria. Yesterday (Friday 24 June) up to a thousand civilians have fled across the border to Lebanon after demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorial regime. Troops used tear gas and live ammo to disperse the crowds of demonstrators. It is estimated that 20 people were killed by troops – at least 6 Syrians died in Lebanese hospitals after they were taken across the border. It’s very difficult to get reliable figures from inside Syria. Syrian state-run TV has claimed that the shootings were carried out by “unidentified gunmen”.

So here we have a situation very much like that in Libya – government forces are trying to kill critics and demonstrators. So will US/UK and its NATO allies going to involve themselves in Syria like they have in Libya, carrying out air strikes against government forces? And what about all the other places in the world where governments use terror to silence their critics?

I guess it depends on whether or not there’s oil in the region. Because, believe it or not, that’s why the US/UK “intervened” in Libya – and before that, in Iraq – and, before that, in _______ (insert country of choice). There’s nothing “humanitarian” about the West’s involvement in these places. It’s time to wake up and smell the crude oil.

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“Vote Labour for war against Iran!” says Blair

30/01/2010

Saturday 30 January 2010

Tony Blair has been accused of trying to make war with Iran an election issue, after he mentioned Iran and its evils 57 times during his evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry on Iraq yesterday (29 January 2010).

Blair claimed that western powers might soon have to invade Iran because its Islamic regime now poses the same threat to peace as Saddam’s Iraq did seven years ago. He warned that the international community must be prepapared to take “a very hard, tough line” with Iran, a country “linked up with terrorist groups”, to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. He even claimed that if he hadn’t toppled Saddam in 2003, Iraq and Iran would probably be locked in a race for nuclear power.

Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Iran, said on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that Blair’s claims had put the issue on the electoral agenda, and that political parties now needed to make it clear that war was not an option. “We need to be much clearer, as voters, with our politicians and with our candidates that we expect a different behaviour and a greater integrity in our democracy next time.”

One of Blair’s complaints about Iran was that its government had fomented the insurgency in Iraq. He claimed that Iran, which follows Shia Islam, had supported al-Qaida, despite it following the rival Sunni branch of the faith, because they both had a common interest in destabilising Iraq. He is trying to put any blame for the failure of his policy on Iraq at Iran’s feet, as well as establishing some sort of non-existent link between Iran and Al-Qaeda to justify a new war. Dalton, a former employee of Blair and an expert on the region, has dismissed this as rubbish. Now we must hope that no one else listens to the former prime minister.

I saw an interesting question posted on the Guardian site by a reader called “Eleusis”: how can Blair continue in his role as UN peace envoy to the Palestinian Territories and Israel after his shocking public war mongering? Unfortunately, I don’t think Blair will have the slightest problem reconciling these conflicting ideas. Blair is two-faced and can perform amazing contortions. Should be in a bloody freak show…

Now is a good time to tell you about the campaign to arrest Blair for war crimes. George Monbiot, a journalist writing on British and international politics and current affairs, has set up the site www.arrestblair.org as a focal point for the campaign. In 2008 Monbiot attempted to make a citizen’s arrest of John Bolton for his role in planning the war against Iraq, and gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell tried to arrest Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe. Of course neither attempt came to anything; but the citizen’s arrests attracted a lot of media attention. This inspired Monbiot’s Arrest Blair campaign. Monbiot wrote in yesterday’s Guardian:

So today I am launching a website – http://www.arrestblair.org – whose purpose is to raise money as a reward for people attempting a peaceful citizen’s arrest of the former prime minister. I have put up the first £100, and I encourage you to match it. Anyone meeting the rules I’ve laid down will be entitled to one quarter of the total pot: the bounties will remain available until Blair faces a court of law. The higher the ­reward, the greater the number of ­people who are likely to try.

At this stage the arrests will be largely symbolic, though they are likely to have great political resonance. But I hope that as pressure builds up and the crime of aggression is adopted by the courts, these attempts will help to press ­governments to prosecute. There must be no hiding place for those who have committed crimes against peace. No ­civilised country can allow mass ­murderers to move on.

There seems to be quite a bit of support for the idea: at the time of this writing, the bounty pot stands at £10,045.99. And that’s after just a couple of days. In time this pot will grow much bigger – especially after a few arrest attempts have been made and media coverage spreads the word. A fine idea!

There are a few rules – for instance the arrest attempt must be non-violent and it must be covered by a “mainstream” media outlet of some kind – and also a few tips on how to perform the citizen’s arrest. It’s very very important you don’t give the impression that you are trying to physically attack Blair in some way as he goes around with armed guards.

According to http://www.arrestblair.org there is a film crew who would like to follow someone planning to make the arrest. And the campaign also has a Facebook page. If anyone wants to give it a go, I support you wholeheartedly. And if you like the idea but (like me) don’t have the balls to actually do it, you could always donate some money to go into the bounty pool. Check the front page at www.arrestblair.org for details on how to donate. Good luck!

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